Three years ago, Veronica and I decided to never buy anything with debt ever again.

No cars, credit cards, and if possible… even our home.

We also agreed to have a strong savings, protective insurance and even a family trust.

We believe money is far more important than most people think. Money is less stress, it’s more freedom, it’s better health, it’s a life of vibrancy, ability and options. And most importantly, money is security.

But many people don’t realize how close they really are to the antithesis of money… Bankruptcy, foreclosure, calling in awkward favors, frustration, anxiety or even living on the streets.

What would happen if you lost your job tomorrow? What would happen if you got pregnant? What would happen if you got sick or were in a bad car accident? Or what about your family… if you died, would they be okay?

Do you have have 8 months of emergency savings? Do you have good health insurance? What about disability or life insurance?

Am I starting to stress you out?

Good. 

We need to stop being stupid about money. We need to reevaluate our needs, we need to hustle harder than we are, and we need to start being smart with every single spending decision we make. Like Dave Ramsey always says,

“Live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.”

Suze Orman blasts this concept into fast motion in this short overview on what it means to “make it in America”. Take a look.

But where did Veronica and I begin?

1. We Hustled and Made 10% More
I know this sounds easier than it is. But I’m not saying go make an extra $1,000 per month. I’m saying go make an extra $100-$500 per month. Sell items on Craigslist, ask for overtime at work, get a night job, or start recycling. Just figure out a way that you can make an extra 10% more per month. That’s the key.

2. We Made a Stupid Simple Budget
I hate spreadsheets. I’m a creative and I lack a functioning analytical portion of my brain. So I made a stupid simple budget in Word that had a few sections organized by month. How much money we made, how much each bill was, how much we had left over (if any), and how much of what we had left over, would be saved or spent. That was it. And it all fit on one page. It was this document that helped us realize how much “free money” we really had and it also informed us if “going out” was really worth it.

3. We Went on a Debt Slashing Rampage
Personally, we decided to slaughter our debt. When we got married in February of 2010 we had $28,000 in debt. A mix of the IRS, credit cards, and car payments. So instead of eating out, buying new clothes, or having gym memberships we decided to double down on all payments toward debt. It was brutal. Our life sucked. But 20 months later and thanks to that extra 10% of income, we paid it off completely. Boomshakalaka!

So what’s stopping you from murdering your debt, saving more and living the life you want?

Awesome photo by Lightstock
Dale Partridge

Some know me as a serial entrepreneur and Founder of Sevenly and StartupCamp, others know me as the guy who can ride a unicycle and still kickflip on a skateboard. I’m on a mission to inspire people. Will you join me?


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40 thoughts on “3 Secrets For Saving Money & Building A Better Life

  1. Andres Naranjo Cruz says:

    That is the best way to a better live! I’m doing right now and I hope to finish partially on march/15.

  2. Chris Williams says:

    Why not commit debt murder? Self-discipline, and not enough discomfort to warrant drastic measures. Though I am only one tragedy away from my current financial house of cards collapsing.

    My efforts have been slow-going and only half-hearted because I have been steadily crawling out of a student-debt hole, at a rate proportionate to my career, since graduation. I have not yet attempted murder on my debt, but I have thrashed and beat it down to a more than manageable level nowadays (ever so thankfully!). I did so by discovering and completing some of the same steps you wrote above, but to a lesser degree and very gradually, over years rather than months.

    Your article, however, now has me pre-meditating my debts untimely end as an actual possibility rather than a “someday” wish. Having your personal examples and methods laid out really helps! And, after the last couple of transformative weeks I’ve had (not to mention a couple of the new books I’ve studied), I believe I’ve left this plateau and want to continue climbing again. But harder than ever before!

  3. Lynette says:

    my hubby, a financial adviser, has been nagging me for years to get rid of my debt, I have 2 credit cards and a huge revolving loan, and 3 clothing accounts, I work hard and all my money goes towards paying debt every month, its annoying and frustrating, I eventually removed all from my internet banking so that I could stop transferring money when I’m broke, a terrible vicious cycle and I cut up my cards (I force myself to not go to malls) I am so committed to been debt free! I actually cant wait! 🙂

    • Dale Partridge says:

      Being committed is the first step. And cutting up those credit cards was a massive thing for you to do! Good luck on this journey! Remember that it will get difficult, but stay true.

  4. LadyAnglerTx says:

    Cut up credit cards, for every purchase ask yourself “Do I need this or do I just want it?”. Shop at resale stores instead of high end dept. stores. My favorite shirt that I own cost fifty cents. Next on my list is to go thru my closet and sell clothes and shoes I no longer wear to make some extra cash.

  5. Krystal says:

    Okay here’s where I struggle. I would LOVE to sell things and make more money to save. I’m currently living in KY and would love to move to WI in the next two years. The only issue is it’s near impossible to find jobs out here in the middle of nowhere where I am located. And to top it off, my husband is always wanting to save every single thing he has or has ever owned. I really want to leave, but I don’t know where to start as far as getting him I the same page.

  6. Maria says:

    Hi Dale! I’ve been reading you for some time now, and each time I feel happier that I found the Daily Positive. Thank you so much for all your great advice, and such inspiring posts!

  7. David Ramos says:

    Awesome post Dale. I’m in the debt-crushing stage currently. I use Mint to budget everything and I can count on 1 hand the times I’ve eaten in a sit-down restaurant in the last 12 months. I would like to cut my by 50% before I get married, then start tackling both are debts in the most strategic way. I know the sacrifices will pay off in the long run – its just keeping positive during that long run that is the hard part.

    • Dale Partridge says:

      That’s very admirable, my friend. You’re doing things the right way and you’ll only thank yourself for it later.

  8. Adele Salazar says:

    went to the swap meet this weekend with my 15 yr old granddaughter, who wanted to buy an electrical adapter for her phone, she just got a job at Smashburger and is counting her pennies and wants to buy it herself, the vendor gave her some good advice, save 20% of every dollar she makes for ever, and she will be ok in her old age, she loved the advice, will consider it, and i’m so proud of her, wish I did that!

  9. Pamela69 says:

    Great post Dale! Debt is a killer on so many levels. Your right the commitment a person makes- is half the battle.

  10. Stephanie says:

    Great post! We took the Dave Ramsey course and desperately want to commit to slashing debt/expenses but its hard to “downgrade” your lifestyle, especially when you want the best for your child. We need to give up our apartment that we love (rent is way too high!) and the little things (eating out, drinks w/ friends)- but that make us feel like more than just “mom and dad” every now and then, and its nice. We follow a monthly budget and we don’t have a lot of money left over, but I know we should put those extra pennies toward debt. To know, and to act: two very different things!

  11. Andi ParkerKimbrough says:

    I get really focused for a while… and then old habits creep back in, or replacement credit cards show up in the mail. Your article reminded me of the Dave Ramsey courses I’ve taken, and how much I hate being a slave to debt. Just cut up 4 credit cards!

  12. Caitlin Muir says:

    I love this. Debt doesn’t have to be reality. There’s a lot of ways you can save…often by just adjusting your perspective.

  13. Caro says:

    The only debt I have is student debt, and that’s building up very fast! I must admit that i’m very very very bad at saving! I only recently started to actually save some money each month, so that i can be out of my mom’s house by 24 (6 more months to go!) I’m starting to panic, but i’m hoping that everything will turn out just fine..

  14. Chantelle says:

    I could not agree more! Less debt = more freedom. Life is about balance. I cut up my credit card years ago!! We do own our own home but it is not excessive and our payments are manageable. We bought most of our furniture second hand and I love shopping at thrift shops for clothes.

  15. Feuza says:

    I feel ya as a wedding photographer in a new location I am not booking as much as I would like so applying for day jobs and launching some e products as I teach SEO for photographers but seems I am always in the red, never enough cash flow, and its depressing. Taking it one day at a time, changing habits and looking at the cup half full so I can go the extra mile and get out of this debt! good read, hope theres more articles like this one.

    • Feuza says:

      basically our household has two people without constant paycheck so this makes it so hard to plan and do it Dave Ramsey style too so I really hope I get a job soon.

  16. Passionandpurpose says:

    I love this concept. It’s just very difficult. I live alone and have steady work in education. However, I had to pay put of pocket for school for an additional certication my job required me to get. Although I was able to avoid additional debt, I only attended graduate classes less than half time which meant paying student loans for my bachelor’s and masters degrees. Tuition, on top of loans, on top of normal living expenses just makes it hard to throw anything extra at my debit.

  17. Waleed A.kawi Saleh says:

    The above message should reach each living American ..! I remember a TV show last Ramadhan called “khawater” where the presenter “Ahmed Al Shugairi” was walking in the US streets holding a sign written on it, “Are you 0 dept?”. Unfortunately, no one answered with Yes!
    I don’t know what makes the population of the strongest country so drowning in dept. Is it the economic system, people priorities or government decisions? But what I know is that the three steps mentioned in this article are probably the first thing to start with.

    Thanks Dale and Good luck

  18. Andrew says:

    I was just laid off from a job that was growing but didn’t have a way to be measured to validate a full-time salary any longer. My wife and I are pregnant and I have a ton of student loan debt thanks to Seninary.
    Now I sit and wait with two kids, one on the way 20 applications out there and debt rising each day. These times continue to put people further in joke because they try to survive in times of financial hardship.
    Being a former Ramsey employee I believe in his teachings, used them, practiced them but every time I/my wife took one step forward we were hit with two steps back, just as our current circumstance has us.
    One day I’ll be debt free!

  19. Travis Peters says:

    Boom! I’m with you Dale, being debt free is totally worth the temporary sacrifice it takes to get there. I’m excited to teach my kids you CAN live a debt free life! – My wife and I currently attacking our mortgage and then we will be completely out. I truly believe because we are putting our hand to this, God will accelerate us paying it off, it’s going to happen faster than we can even imagine! (Eph 3:20)

  20. Sarah says:

    My husband & I are firm believers in this as well. When we got married last year, I had roughly $40,000 in student loan debt, we both owed on our cars, and we bought a small starter home. We are fortunate to work at a company that offers us a match in 401k and so we decided to max out our yearly 401 contribution – we both now have 31% of our paychecks going towards our retirement. We doubled up on car payments and took care of those within a year, and immediately took out low-interest loans against both vehicles to pay off the student loan debt. We continue to put everything extra towards the house and these two loans – with the goal of being debt free in 3-5 years, and retiring in 8-12. This may seem crazy (as we are both under 30) but we truly believe it is important to be able to live free from worry of debt. We want to raise children in a household where we aren’t living from paycheck to paycheck – where we don’t need to worry about money at all. Not that we will have infinite amounts of it, but we will hopefully have just enough to sustain a simple yet fulfilling life for our family, for as long as necessary.

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